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Kenyan bishops to question their relationship with the Church of England after same-sex debate

06 June 2023

Moses Odanga/Modan-photography 

The Bishop of Mumias, Dr Joseph Wandera

The Bishop of Mumias, Dr Joseph Wandera

BISHOPS in the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) are considering steps to distance themselves from the Church of England over its decision to bless same-sex couples in church.

In an article published on Covenant, the online blog of the Living Church Foundation, on Friday, the Bishop of Mumias in Kenya, Dr Joseph Wandera, describes a decision by the Province’s House of Bishops to “seek to strengthen ties with associations and movements” including GAFCON and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA).

He writes that the bishops were also seeking to “develop a position paper on how to relate to Churches and/or Provinces that have departed from traditional Christian teachings, but without relinquishing our rightful place in the Communion”.

Dr Wandera continues: “The vast majority of Anglicans and even non-Christians in Kenya are shocked at the recent developments in our mother Church of England in allowing the blessing of same-sex relations.”

But he maintains: “While the ACK is an autonomous province, its filial affinity to the Church of England has been unassailable. Both old and young Anglicans identify with the Church of England, with a deep sense of gratitude for the Church of England’s mission in the past. Many Anglican dioceses in Kenya are in varied partnerships with dioceses in the Church of England, and other members of the Anglican Communion. Most desire to remain in communion.”

He envisions “a growing relationship of differentiation in the ACK’s relationship with the wider Anglican Communion” yet one that “seeks to maintain, with gratitude, cherished historical links to the wider Anglican family”. He sees resistance “against powerful homogenizing tendencies” but also evidence of “how people and groups behave and construct their identities, demanding an opportunity to thrive without disconnecting from the global family”.

The Kenya move comes in the wake of developments in Uganda. Last Monday, the Archbishop of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba, expressed his Church’s gratitude for a hardline anti-homosexuality law, passed that week, while disagreeing with its imposition of the death penalty in some “aggravated” cases (News, 30 May).

Further reactions to the Ugandan law emerged during the week. The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, described the law on Twitter as “absolutely appalling”.

“The Archbishop of Uganda’s support of it, as the Archbishop of Wales has said, is ‘profoundly disturbing and utterly UnChristlike’,” he wrote.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, followed suit a couple of hours later: “This law and the Archbishop of Uganda’s support for it are truly disturbing. An important reminder that we live in a world where many still suffer persecution and are criminalised because of their sexuality.”

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally also condemned the new law on Friday. In a post on Twitter, she wrote that the law “amounts to an attack on fundamental human dignity and international human rights”, and said that her prayers were with LGBTQ+ Ugandans who “must be living in the most terrible fear”.

On Saturday, the Bishop of Liverpool, Dr John Perumbalath, joined his colleagues, saying that the Church of Uganda’s “support for this inhuman and unchristian law is disturbing and worrying”.

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